Construction of the Huntingdon and Hills Road protected cycle lanes is well under way. Though they have slipped from their planned completion dates, large sections of each are complete enough to give a taste of the finished routes.
At the time of writing, Huntingdon Road is rideable from Girton Corner to the petrol station, then again between the Lawrence Weaver Way and Storey’s Way junctions. Hills Road is in a rideable state from Long Road to near Homerton College.
I found the lanes to be a joy to use. The machine-laid surface gives a smooth, comfortable ride and its red colouring clearly marks it out as separate from the main carriageway. For the most part the width is sufficient to chat with a friend, or to pass slower riders, and far better than the lanes they’ve replaced for feeling safely separated from motor traffic.
Though the ongoing construction currently forces a merge with motor traffic, preventing them from being all-ability lanes for the time being, signs reminding drivers not to overtake riders through narrow lanes should be commended.
Near Girton Corner a pair of the controversial floating bus stops are complete and in active service. On passing a group of school children waiting at the recently installed shelter I felt there was little chance of conflict; there are good sight lines, clearly marked areas for walking, riding and waiting for the bus. As people become familiar with these stops I am sure that concerns will fade.
An area of concern for cyclists has been the segregation itself. In many places only a subtle dropped curb has been used, leaving many wondering if this is sufficient to be worthwhile. Putting any debate to one side, I had no concerns using what has been installed. The drop is flush enough to both leave past the works, making a right turn – and enter – past the odd parked vehicle (hiss) – without worrying about a fall. What lip there is, and the colour of the surface, do a good job of keeping drivers out. Though subjective, riding here feels more comfortable than in paint-only lanes elsewhere in the city.
Only time (and completion) will tell how successful these routes are for all-ability cycling. However, the sample currently available shows real promise and I’m looking forward to trying out the full routes. I’m also optimistic that their overall quality will motivate similar schemes both on the outbound side of these roads and elsewhere in the city.